Celebrating Heritage Month: Survivor Wines Triumph in 28th annual Absa Top 10 competition

Survivor Wines is proud to announce its victory in the 28th annual Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition with the Survivor Pinotage Reserve 2021. This accolade marks Survivor’s third triumph in the competition, reaffirming its commitment to excellence – an exceptional achievement that pays homage to the enduring spirit of Pinotage but also underscores Survivor Wines’ dedication to crafting world-class wines. Earlier this year, the Survivor Chardonnay also received the distinguished titles of Best Chardonnay and Best White Wine overall at the annual Investec Trophy Wine Show.


The Absa Top 10 Pinotage competition has long been a revered platform for South African winemakers to showcase their mastery of this unique heritage grape. A panel of expert judges rigorously assessed an outstanding lineup of South Africa’s finest Pinotage wines, culminating in unveiling the Absa Top 20 finalists for the 2023 Pinotage competition last month. Chairing the judging panel, Samarie Smith-Meletiou DipWSET remarked, “As if selecting the Top 35 wasn’t hard enough! Pinotage has reached a balanced aesthetic where meticulous care in site-specific vineyards yields exceptional grapes, and with winemaking excellence, weaved together a wine that will shine on any international wine stage. The selection hails from various regions, awarded for their individual personalities. The intricate art of crafting Pinotage, with its narrow windows of ripening and fermentation, showcases the unparalleled skill of viticulturists and winemakers. The finest Pinotage wines exhibit a delicate equilibrium between profound fruit, judicious oak use, and refreshing poise.”


Pinotage’s genesis was serendipitous, born from the crossing of Hermitage and Pinot Noir by the late Prof Izak Perold in 1925. Dr. Charlie Niehaus saved this experiment, leading to Pinotage’s inception. Survivor Wines resonates deeply with this story, having its own origins steeped in survival when a Nguni leapt from the back of a truck and emerged unscathed in the vineyards. This parallel of resilience mirrors Pinotage’s journey. Leading this legacy at the cellar helm is Pierre Wahl, renowned as the “Pope of Pinotage” for his unwavering commitment to this iconic grape throughout his winemaking career.


“The Survivor Pinotage Reserve 2021 is made from a 21-year-old bush vine vineyard in the Swartland, nurtured on rugged decomposed granite soils. It embodies distinction, and I believe that the cooler embrace of the 2021 vintage played a vital part in this wine claiming its rightful place among the ABSA TOP 10 – a true Survivor,” said Wahl. “This award is a tribute to nature’s artistry, our winemaking craft, and the indomitable spirit within each bottle. It confirms our commitment to quality and consistency after the 2020 vintage was awarded 5 stars in the Diner’s Club Platter’s Wine Guide.”

Survivor Wines extends heartfelt gratitude to the Pinotage Association for its tireless efforts in promoting and advancing Pinotage, with unwavering support from Absa Bank as the sponsor. Beyers Truter, Chairman of the Pinotage Association, attested that the calibre of wines submitted for the 2023 competition is a testament to the diversity and potential of the Pinotage varietal in South Africa.


As South Africans unite to celebrate their heritage this month, it is only fitting to raise a glass to a wine born of ingenuity and perseverance, so wine enthusiasts are encouraged to stock up on fine Pinotage. Survivor Pinotage Reserve 2021 promises a rich, deep colour and a captivating bouquet of blackberry fruit pastilles, freshly picked ripe cherries, and hints of vanilla spice. The wine envelops the palate with a defined midpalate, delivering the same medley of red and black fruit with an added freshness that extends its length. With 134 entries from 73 farms across the Western Cape this year, spanning vintages from 2014 to 2022, achieving a place among the top is no small feat, and we commend all the winners for their outstanding contributions to the Pinotage heritage.

For more information, please visit Survivorwines.com or contact: 023 347 5012

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